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The Creative Big Leap – Gay Hendricks – Ep 6

December 1, 2021


I’m always interested in what I call “up-leveling” my art. Also my life. But behind that statement is the assumption that it’s possible. So we do well to ask, “How do we do it? How do you go from doing something that’s pretty good or even excellent and take it to an amazingly higher place?” The answer to those questions is what I’m after in this amazing conversation with who I think of as the guru of upleveling.

My guest on this episode is Gay Hendricks. Gay, along with his partner is Katie, help people open to more creativity, love, and vitality through the power of conscious relationship and whole-person learning. They have authored over 40 books on the subject, appeared on Oprah, and have taught seminars all over the globe for nearly 40 years.

Gay describes this “upleveling” as a “transition.” I didn’t even know it was a transition, or that it was possible. But I had the sense that there could be a way to move what I was doing to a better, higher place where creativity flowed, free of constraints. What I learned from reading Gay’s book, “The Big Leap” is that even if you are operating in the zone of excellence in any area, it is possible to move on to the zone of genius. But it requires pushing through fear, pain, ego, and more if you are going to reach the place of creative flow.

The concepts we discuss in this episode are powerful. It’s the kind of learning that wakes you up in the middle of the night. It wakes you up to the startling realization that your art and of course your life too can get better. Much better. Join me today in conversation with Gay, as we begin to uncover a sense of what is possible in our art and life.

Listen if you are interested in…

  • Gay’s thoughts about creativity and how wonder is an integral part of it [3:00]
  • Why fear is the gateway we have to go through in order to get to the “good stuff” [9:30]
  • How you can spend 10 minutes a day to “occupy this present place” [18:49]
  • The innate ability we all have to be inspired and therefore creative [23:03]
  • Life itself is the art we must learn to create [28:27]
  • Why we have our greatest opportunity when ego leaves the room [31:57]
  • Looking for the ways you are trying to control the uncontrollable [41:18]

Creativity is anything that has the capacity to surprise you

It’s not uncommon for artists, and people in general, to feel that they are not creative. But the truth is that you can discover creativity anywhere that you find surprise and wonder. Gay says that the moments when new things come to mind, when wonder and discovery come out of nowhere, you’re in the zone of creativity. That’s where we want to be when we are creating our art.

That’s a pretty high bar, but because it is, it keeps us pushing ourselves until we reach the point that wonder is birthed in what we are doing. Wonder is such an important capacity because it’s not something we can buy or train for, it’s something we have to be available for. To do so, we have to put ourselves in situations and places where we stand open to it, giving it room to occur. And when we do, we often confront fear, doubt, pain, and more. Listen to hear how you can push through those obstacles to find the creativity that resides inside you.

When you’ve reached the zone of excellence, you may find yourself in a trap

We all want to be excellent at our craft, whether it’s painting, sculpting, composing, acting, or any other creative endeavor. But even when we reach that place of excellence, it’s not as high as we could and should go. Gay speaks of four “zones” — the zone of incompetence, the zone of competence, the zone of excellence, and the genius zone. He believes that artists like you and me often reach a level in their work where they are excellent at what they do, but it can be a trap.

As a coach to creatives, I want to see those in the excellence zone take the leap into the genius zone. That’s the place where they bring the very essence of who they are into their work, and they get there by opening up the capacity for wonder and being willing to deal with their fears and limitations. Interestingly, the fears they face are often not their own, they have been projected onto them by others… and that they don’t recognize them for what they are.

As artists, we need to go beyond ego to the point of creativity

One of Gay’s most liberating observations is that creativity does not happen when we are engaged in activities of the ego. What do those activities look like? It could be comparing ourselves to those around us or competing with others to make ourselves feel good enough, worthy, or valued. It could be self-protection, manipulation, or demanding behavior. Neither of these ego-based activities (and likely many more) serves us well. They are only attempts to look good for the sake of others.

Gay says we reach the place of genius only when we can let go of ego and move higher, to the point of true creativity. We must get past praise and blame to a place where we are nestled down into the sweet spot of our own essential creativity. When we do, it is able to blossom through us in a way that no other person on earth can do. That is the place where we are lost in the wonder. At this time in history, I feel the highest level of work of all our work, our potential is needed. Gay’s teaching is an invitation that invites all of us to participate in this remarkable possibility.

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Gay Hendricks

Connect with Nicholas Wilton

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Nicholas Wilton

Hi! I’m
Nicholas Wilton
the founder of Art2Life.

With over 20 years experience as a working artist and educator, I’ve developed a systematic approach that brings authenticity, spontaneity and joy back into the creative process.

Join me and artists from all over the world in our Free Art2Life Artists Facebook Group or learn more here about Art2Life.

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